Monday, April 15, 2013

A note from the Dept. of Modest Proposals: Cancel Daytona

I was going to write a blog post bemoaning the 2 1/2-month gap between Daytona and the next AMA Superbike race weekend. I was going to ask, "Is there really no Speedway availability later in the spring?"
Ago won the 200 in 1974. And damned if I don't have trouble remembering who won it last month.
Daytona is dead. Long live Daytona.
The early start/long gap schedule forces teams to rush preparations Bike Week; that's a bigger problem for the smaller teams. Then, the marketing of the series loses momentum during the hiatus; that takes the wind out of the promotional sails (and sales) for the bigger, commercial/factory squads. Nobody thinks the current schedule is good.

A March event made sense decades ago, when Bike Week in general and the '200' in particular attracted an international field. The race had to be scheduled before the Grands Prix season, and before the big Easter meetings in England (then the de facto head office of the racing industry.) It was an informal trade show and industry conference; everyone who was anyone was there. That's no longer true of the year's first AMA 'National'.

So I was going to say, reschedule it. But as I started composing this post, I realized the answer isn't rescheduling Daytona. It's canceling Daytona.

Let's face it: Daytona's not just an outlier on the AMA schedule, it's an outlier, period. No matter what you do to the course infield (and there have been several changes to the layout and course distance over the years; remembering when qualifying ran on the oval alone?) the banking still makes it so unique that the tire supplier makes special tires for it.

Face this, too: It's all about the '200'. Every other class is just an appendage to the main event, which has lost so much prestige having been downgraded to the second-fastest class that now there's hardly a main event at all. But, whether teams are competing for less prestige or not, machines still have to be built with special refueling and tire change components.

I don't think it should be part of the AMA Superbike series at all. I'm not saying they shouldn't hold it; I'm just saying that it shouldn't be a points-paying race in the American national championship.

I think, instead, that DMG should take a page from the Isle of Man's book.
DMG should study the way that the Isle of Man has steadily gone about restoring the TT as a stand-alone event that is not part of any championship.
Like the TT, Daytona was a world-class (and sometimes actually a World Championship) event, attracting the world's top riders, until some time in the '70s. Then it fell on hard times, and for years -- for decades -- when old hands gather to talk about it, the talk is only that it's a shadow of it's former self.

Since 2004, when the Manx government took over the TT and created a strategic plan to grow the event's prestige back to long-lost levels, they've done a great job. It was achieved, in part, by actively going out and recruiting riders and/or teams that the organizers thought would add to the event. The TT Press Office works year round to build the event's profile.

In fact, top TT teams (who already refuel, albeit not with dry-break equipment, and change tires) could probably be lured over to race the 200. Some World Endurance teams might come, too. (I would have said, make it a part of that championship, but the FIM would never homologate DIS for a world championship event.)

As a first event on the AMA Pro Racing schedule, Daytona sucks. But the Daytona 200 would make a great one-off race. What do you say, DMG?


  1. Having visited Daytona for the first time this year and being a younger motorcyclist unbiased by memories of the good old days, I completely agree with you. The race is completely out of character with modern motorcycle road racing and has the potential to be so much more than it is. Its time the AMA and motorcyclists in this country start looking at the racing business within the context of our era. Great suggestion, keep them coming.

  2. Totally agree. The great part is you could get factory's and privateers who won't or don't race the AMA schedule to participate.